Browne, Patrick

, M. D. a naturalist of considerable eminence, the fourth son of Edward Browne, esq. a | gentleman of respectable family, was born at Woodstock, the paternal inheritance, in the parish of Crossboyne, and county of Mayo, about 1720. After receiving the best education that country could afford, he was sent to a near relation in the island of Antigua in 1737; but the climate disagreeing very much with his constitution, he returned in about a year to Europe, and landing in France, went directly to Paris, where he speedily recovered his health, and with the approbation of his parents applied himself closely to the study of physic, and particularly to the science of botany, for which he always had a particular predilection. After five years spent at Paris, he removed to Leyden, where he studied near two years more, and from that university obtained his degree of M. D. Here he formed an intimacy with Gronovius and Muschenbroeck, and commenced a correspondence with Linnæus and other eminent botanists and learned men. From Holland he proceeded to London, where he practised near two years, and thence went out again to the West Indies, and after spending some months in Antigua and some others of the Sugar Islands, he proceeded to Jamaica, where he spent his time in collecting and preserving specimens of the plants, birds, shells, &c. of those luxuriant soils, with a view to the improvement of natural history.

Whilst in Jamaica, his residence was chiefly in Kingston, and it was he who first pointed out the absurdity of continuing Spanish-town the port and capital, while reason plainly pointed out Kingston, or in his own words, “the defects of a port of clearance to leeward;” and by his writings the governor and council represented the matter so strikingly to earl Granville, president of the council 1756, that the measure was immediately adopted, and Kingston made the port of clearance, to the very great benefit of commerce in general, as before that, when ships were clearing out of Kingston, and ready to weigh anchor, they were obliged to send near seven miles to Spanish-town, by which they often suffered great inconvenience and delay.

At this time he also collected materials, and made the necessary observations (being a very good mathematician and astronomer) for a new map of Jamaica, which he published in London, in August 1755, engraved by Dr. Bayly, on two sheets, by which the doctor cleared four hundred guineas. Soon after this (March 1756) he published his | Civil and Natural History of Jamaica,” in folio, ornamented with forty-nine engravings of natural history, a whole sheet map of the island, and another of the harbour of Port-Royal, Kingston-town, &c. Of this work there were but two hundred and fifty copies printed by subscription, at the very low price of one guinea, but a few were sold at two pounds two shillings in sheets by the printer. Most unfortunately all the copper-plates, as well as the original drawings, were consumed by the great fire in Cornhill, November 7, 1765. This alone prevented in his life-time a second edition of that work, for which he made considerable preparations, by many additional plants, and a few corrections in his several voyages to these islands, for he was six different times in the West Indies; in one of those trips he lived above twelve months in the island of Antigua: however, these observations will we trust not be lost to the public, as he sent before his death to sir Joseph Banks, P. R. S. “A catalogue of the plants growing in the Sugar Islands, &c. classed and described according to the Linnaean system,” in 4to, containing about eighty pages. In Exshaw’s Gentleman’s and London Magazine for June 1774, he published “A catalogue of the birds of Ireland,” and in Exshaw’s August Magazine following, “A catalogue of its fish.” In 1788 he prepared for the press a very curious and useful catalogue of the plants of the north-west counties of Ireland, classed with great care and accuracy according to the Linnsean system, containing above seven hundred plants, mostly observed by himself, having trusted very few to the descriptions of others. This little tract, written in Latin with the English and Irish names, might be of considerable use in assisting to compile a “Flora Hibernica,” a work every botanist will allow to be much wanting.

The doctor was a tall, comely man, of good address and gentle manners, naturally cheerful, very temperate, and in general healthy; but in his latter years had violent periodical fits of the gout, by which he suffered greatly: in the intervals of these unwelcome visits, he formed the catalogue of plants, and was always, when in health, doing something in natural history or mathematics. At a very early period he married in Antigua a native of that island, but had no issue. His circumstances were moderate, but easy, and the poor found ample benefit from his liberality as well as professional skill He died at | Rushbrook, county of Mayo, on Sunday August 29, 1790, and was interred in the family burial-place at Crossboyne. 1


Europ. Magazine, Aug. 1795.